PRINCETON, W.Va. (WVVA) - The Lady Panthers' Erin O'Sullivan had already won regional championships and placed third in the Class A-AA state cross country meet headed into her senior year.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, O'Sullivan made the difficult decision to opt-out of her senior season.
Now, she's looking forward to next year when she begins studying and competing at Concord University.
"It was the right fit," she said immediately. "It was accepting, it was a small class size, but there were enough people there not to feel too small."
Another important factor -- Athens is just down the road. And O'Sullivan became emotional when explaining the importance of having her family continue to see her compete.
"It means a lot knowing they're willing to make sacrifices for me," she said, fighting back tears. "They're with me at my weakest moments -- at my strongest moments. I'm just glad they get to enjoy the process with me."
Even though O'Sullivan is moving on from the Panther program, she'll always remember some of the most valuable lessons she has learned from her high school coaches and teammates.
"Knowing that you are physically prepared and mentally prepared -- knowing that it's going to take hard work," she said. "You may not be at your strongest -- you may be at your weakest. But, no matter what -- you're prepared mentally so you know you're capable of doing A, B and C."
O'Sullivan will run both cross country and track events for the Mountain Lions. She currently plans on studying business.